Making the most of game-changing technology
One of the joys of working in business aviation is the chance to use incredible new technologies, driving our industry forward, says Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, chief executive, Luxaviation UK. And when those technologies combine with a truly personal customer service, business aviation really soars.
Let’s start by looking at the dramatic changes we’ve seen in how private jet flights are booked. After all, we don’t just need to ensure digital natives like our services. We need to make sure these affluent and influential individuals like the way they book our services too.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, telephone calls and e-mails are no longer the only booking options. Look at China, where the ‘WeChat’ mobile messaging app is a popular means of communication between brokers and operators. And generations raised with virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa in their homes, and Apple’s Siri on their phones, will expect to be booking flights through voice technologies soon – speaker identification security will become increasingly common in every industry, including business aviation.
A brave new world of online booking
We’re certainly moving closer all the time to ‘one-click booking’ apps. A new generation of brokers and operators are embracing the internet to communicate with clients online, anywhere, 24/7. We’re seeing pioneering flight sourcing services from companies including PrivateFly, , and Vista Global (notably the new XO marketplace). Technology is redefining industry roles, with , for example, offering an online private jet chartering system “that works without brokers”.
As an industry, we’ve been clever in learning lessons from our colleagues in the wider travel business. Leading online companies such as Expedia and lastminute.com don’t make customers wait for price and availability information on airlines and hotels. Services such as our own online ‘Quick Quote’ show how seriously we too take speed of response in modern business aviation.
Operators and brokers cooperating online
Globally, online platforms shared by brokers and operators, such as , are also making the buying and selling of air charter faster and more efficient than ever before. Brokers no longer need waste time making speculative cold calls to operators when sourcing aircraft. And for actionable market intelligence, the industry can turn to tech-led providers such as WINGX.
Efficient ‘digital twins’
In many ways, you could say a private jet company today functions on two levels – the real operations are mirrored by a ‘digital twin’. With so many partners and suppliers – from caterers to fixed-base operations – spread internationally, gathering information from everyone concerned in the operation of a charter flight, on one computer screen, is invaluable. Developments in application programming interface (API) infrastructure now allow software products and multiple stand-alone systems to share data easily. When you can see a problem approaching in the digital world on your screen, you can act fast to ensure that problem never materialises in the real world.
Sharing data includes automatic, real-time, air-to-ground communications, critical in operational areas such as monitoring engine performance and consequent maintenance planning. Complementary technologies, such as CAMP Maintenance Tracking, help ensure business aviation meets the highest safety standards.
Finance departments love technology that minimises manual data input. Scanning invoices, using software from companies such as Europe, means operational and accounts teams can share financial updates quickly and automatically, processing 10 invoices every minute, not one invoice every 10 minutes.
Are we losing the personal touch?
But if you’re thinking all these technologies are taking the personal touch away from private aviation, relax. In fact, the opposite is true. Automation, for example, saves our industry so much time. Boring, repetitive manual tasks disappear. Slowly typing every piece of information into each new customer quote document simply isn’t necessary when your quotes are automatically populated with data. The time saved can then be spent building relationships with customers, enjoying face-to-face conversations, working to understand and meet their unique needs and wishes.
Databases prove the point too. We can not only integrate computer databases more seamlessly than ever before, achieving extraordinarily comprehensive stores of information, we can also interrogate those databases with unprecedented ease, precision and speed. As a result, analysing clients’ activities and choices, we can proactively deliver extremely personalised services and opportunities to individual customers.
Are about to change everything?
We can’t look at evolving technologies in business aviation without discussing the aircraft themselves. ‘Electric vertical and landing () aircraft’ (or ‘flying cars’ if you prefer) could revolutionise business aviation and urban commutes globally. From the 216 air taxi to Bell’s FCX-001 Concept Helicopter, innovations in aerial mobility are developing all the time. Pilotless passenger aircraft no longer belong only in the world of science fiction. These futuristic concepts are fast approaching reality.
A powerful combination
Technology, maximising productivity at minimal cost, already drives business aviation every day. And with each new day, that technology becomes more powerful. The result? An air charter business can operate highly efficiently on a global scale without ever losing the boutique feel customers love.
That personal touch is still essential in business aviation. And technology is essential in…well, just about every industry that exists. From a warm smile to an , and from your favourite inflight meal to a cutting-edge pricing algorithm, private aviation works best when the personal touch and technology join forces.
Published in BlueSky Business Aviation News
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